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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Crash Course Astronomy Episode 10: The Sun

By Phil Plait
Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move. Doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love. —Hamlet, in a letter to Ophelia

Of all the stars in the Universe, the one we know best is our own Sun.

That’s not to say we understand it completely, of course. But we know it’s not a burning ember, or a god, or a great ball of fire (goodness gracious). It’s a fantastically huge fusion-generating plasma ball, the main source of light, heat, and gravity in the solar system.

Wanna know more? Of course you do. Let this guy in an orange shirt tell you more.

Researching this one was fun. I know a bit about our star, having written about it a bajillion times on the blog and in my books. The hard part, as usual, was struggling with what to leave out. I decided the chromosphere could be sacrificed, and details about the complex way the magnetic field is generated.

That wasn’t so bad, but the killer was the sunspot cycle. It’s a big topic, and too hard to synopsize for the video in the time allotted. In the end I figured I covered the spots, the solar storms, and the effects on Earth, so the fact that Sun waxes and wanes in magnetic activity would just take too long to go over. You can read more about it here if you’d like.

But, the hope is that you get a taste of the Sun—figuratively, because otherwise ow—and want to find out more. The thing about astronomy, about science itself, is that there’s always more to learn.

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